Dogs bring joy to your life, but dogs who urinate inappropriately on your property certainly detract from harmonious human/animal interactions. Understanding the reasons for the misguided urination is the first step to changing behaviors; the cause of a dog's urination issues could be physical or behavioral.
Causes of Excessive Urination
When you begin your detective work, start by ruling out the "usual suspects." Dogs can produce excessive urine due to underlying diseases, and your veterinarian can help you rule out conditions that relate to polyuria, the medical term for excessive urination. Conditions whose symptoms include polyuria are canine diabetes, liver or kidney disease, high blood pressure and glandular problems. Temporary conditions, such as urinary tract infection, could also cause a dog to urinate more than normal. Your veterinarian can perform tests to determine if a disease is forcing your dog to urinate indiscriminately.
Back to the Basics
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If your dog gets a clean bill of health, take the next step and make sure he knows what's expected for elimination. It seems obvious, but dogs need to be shown a place to go, and they should know to head to that spot whenever the urge arises. Select an area in your yard that is desirable for potty behavior, or choose a place in your home to put down newspapers or potty pads for your dog's needs. Whether your dog is young or old, start house-training as though the dog is learning for the first time.
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If your dog knows what is expected of him, yet he continues to urinate on your household items, your outdoor bushes and just about anything he passes, the behavior may be related to dominance, territory marking urges or scents left by other dogs. Dominant dogs like to let others know that they're claiming territory, and marking is a dog's way to take ownership. These dogs may take longer to train, and they need additional diligence on your part. Neutering male dogs helps curtail marking. The scent of a female in heat can trigger dogs to mark, especially intact males.
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Multi-dog households may experience additional stress involving house-training, as the dogs compete with each other to claim territory. Give rescue dogs extra time to adjust to a new environment. Dogs can develop bad habits and test their owners; they will return to areas scented by previously placed urine, and mark the spot again. Thoroughly clean any areas previously soiled, and keep an eye on dogs when they approach those spots. It can be argued that some breeds, or some individuals, are more difficult to train than others, but start with a positive attitude, be consistent and set your dog up to succeed. As with any problem, consult an expert for advice if you become frustrated. Your veterinarian or local animal shelter can recommend a trainer or animal behaviorist to get you on track.
Connie Jankowski began writing in 1987. She has published articles in "Dog Fancy" and "The Orange County Register," among others. Areas of expertise include education, health care and pets. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Pittsburgh.